Why certifications are a pathway to lifelong learning
What do you think of when you ponder the benefits of certifications (be they technical or domain)? We all know they are a good way to boost your resume. But how about the value of certifications in terms of personal learning and knowledge enhancement?
In the world of IT, there's a new discovery every day. It's crucial to keep up. Certifications can be a real aid to staying in sync with new trends and innovations. They also act as a kind of shorthand for your skillset. I think of them as a universally recognizable tag, which others can use to gain an immediate insight into your specific expertise.
Tieto's Capital Markets Unit
I work as a Functional Tester in the Capital Markets unit of Tieto. My role is that of a gatekeeper; I stop any defects leaking into the system. To prevent any bugs from reaching our customers, I try to find them in the environment itself and get them fixed before they are delivered. So, what have certifications added to my career so far? And how have they enhanced my unit's work?
Firstly, I should say a little about the Capital Markets unit. It's a full stack solution provider for most of the Nordic mortgage houses and investment banks. Our products, such as Abasec, Probroker and TCM, offer a wide variety of functionalities for customers. They also provide great interconnectivity with external systems, like stock exchanges and clearing houses. Our work really covers a vast amount of the Nordic investment market.
Certifications as targets
At the start of each year we set ourselves a list of goals to achieve over the next 12 months. These goals form the basis on which our overall performance for the year is evaluated. In 2016, our targets were to gain at least two relevant certifications.
After preparing and taking the exams for these certifications, I can say that I've expanded my knowledge of financial investment markets and I can relate this to the work that I do each day. It's given me a good understanding of the bigger picture. I'm able to map products' functionalities with what actually happens out in the investment market (stock trading, derivative trading, debt instruments, the clearing and settlement process, etc.) And I understand things faster than I did before. In fact, I feel the same is true for everyone in my team. We've all emerged from the certification process as better developers and testers.
Our leadership team took great efforts to ensure we were motivated throughout the whole journey. As part of this, we coordinated with an external organization called FLIP, which provides online training platforms. They designed a customized course syllabus for us, with extensive material that covered all major asset classes - from front office to back office operations, and also a risk management module.
The training was flexible and tailored to our needs, The content was clear and self-explanatory, with concrete examples provided at each step. Everyone, from new joiners to veterans in the unit, could actually relate what we were learning to our products. For example, when faced with typical financial business jargon (such as 'limit orders' or the difference between American and European options) we find it much easier to understand now. This means we need to ask fewer questions - and that we can get straight to work for our customers.
The process culminated with an in-house exam scheduled by FLIP. This was online and time bound. Completing the exam definitely felt more like a wonderful experience than a chore. It brought us all a great sense of satisfaction. We can see the hard work is paying off from the good feedback that we receive from our Nordic counterparts. Also, 'exam anxiety' is a thing of the past - our confidence levels are sky-high. A huge thank you to our unit head Bhaskar Deshmukh for motivating us, for giving us all the possible opportunities, and for driving us till the end.
The journey continues
There’s still a lot more to learn in the Capital Markets domain, and we’ll continue the practices that we began last year. For 2017, our aim is to gain advanced certification in an area such as in-depth financial analysis of market trends. It’s a vast and complicated subject, but also very interesting. Learning is like undertaking a long journey – endless, and rich with potential for growth.
There has already been an ample amount of technical certifications achieved within our unit over the last year. Our unit’s success in gaining these certifications is a fine example of the importance that Tieto places on both individual and group learning. This fosters a spirit of intellectual curiosity and excellence. In turn, this equates into higher quality output and happy customers.
Now for the next step of the journey!